U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr’s nominee for Ambassador to Chad, Alexander Mark Laskaris, is a career diplomat with in-depth experience relating to the continent of Africa but will face a plethora of challenges in the military-controlled nation of Chad.
Chad has been ruled by a transitional military government since an April 2021 coup d’état that occurred shortly after the death of longtime President Idriss Déby Itno.
In Chad, corruption and human rights abuses are pervasive. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 42 percent of the nation lives below the international poverty line and 2.1 million people are expected to be severely food insecure during this year’s lean season. Chad is one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking 187th out of 189 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index.
“If confirmed, I will continue to work with the African Union and our international partners to support an inclusive, peaceful, and timely transition to a democratic and civilian-led government. The goal – and the hope- that we share with the people of Chad is the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history, one that empowers a new government to tackle the profound development challenges it will face on inauguration day,” said Laskaris in a testimony before the senate committee on foreign relations.
While Chad professes to officially be a republic, it is largely authoritarian. In its 2022 report, Freedom House gave Chad an alarmingly low political rights score of just 1 out of 40.
When Chad’s president of over three decades, Idriss Déby Itno, was killed by rebels, his son General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno and other military officers took control of the country and established a transitional council. However, significant steps transitioning toward a fair and free election have yet to take place.
Amnesty International reports that last year in Chad, “Repression of government critics continued; the authorities arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and civil society activists and violated the right to freedom of expression. Some protests were banned and security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters defying the ban.”
Alexander Mark Laskaris currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of African Affairs. Additionally, he has spent almost twenty years working specifically on African issues in a variety of roles including Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea and Deputy to the Commander for Civil Military Engagements at the United States Africa Command. He has also served at the U.S. Embassies in both Burundi and Angola.
“His demonstrated success as a leader, coupled with his extensive knowledge of Africa in terms of both policy and operational issues, makes him a well-qualified candidate to serve as Ambassador to the Republic of Chad,” said a certificate of competency from the U.S. State Department.
Laskaris was nominated by President Biden on January 20, 2022 but has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Laskaris earned a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from the U.S. Army War College. He speaks English, French, Portuguese, Greek, Kurdish, Albanian, and Spanish.